A Slave Either Way
The New Testament writers routinely use the word “slave” to describe the relationship that a follower of Jesus has to Jesus Christ. We have to move beyond the horror of American slavery and slavery around the world to process the way that the word applies in the New Testament. A slave is someone who belongs to an owner, a master. That’s a terrible thing in terms of humans owning other humans. However, it’s not terrible at all when God is your owner or master. In fact, what the New Testament clearly reveals is that human beings are either slaves to God or slaves to the world, a world of unrighteousness. We are slaves either way…we are not moral free agents. Look at what Paul writes in verses 15-20: “15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! 16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? 17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. 18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. 19 I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.”
In Christ, we are no longer slaves to uncleanness so why would we continue to present ourselves as if we still belong to the world? One application here is that if a person continues to present himself to the world, then there is very good reason to believe that he is still a slave of the world; never being transformed by Christ. This is so incredibly important to understand. Who do you serve? If it isn’t Jesus then it’s the world. If it isn’t righteousness then it’s unrighteousness. You and I are slaves either way.